Page images

ture and the laws which direct it; they point us to Intelligence and Wisdom and Goodness.

It is one of the grand conclusions, presented by Buckland, Sedgwick, Hitchcock, and others, that geology conducts us back to a period when, not only the present races of plants and animals, as well as the family of man, had not existence, but when no animal or vegetable life had been created on our globe. All remains cease to be found, and all evidence of such existence disappears, before the search of the geologist. To say that the remains may have been destroyed by reason of the changes already taken place in the older rocks, is to resort to conjecture or hypothesis, and not to geological evidence. Besides, by what rocks could they have been made to disappear?

The crystalline rocks, which resemble granite in their structure, whether stratified or not, were the first which were formed, and it is the general belief that of all these, granite itself was the first formed. That granitoid and porphyretic rocks have been thrown up through those of a more recent date, does not alter the fact that the granite which lies beneath the gneiss and hyalomicta is the formation rock. Whether the two last named rocks be sedimentary deposits, arising from the abrasion of the granite, and subsequently consolidated and hardened by fire, may admit of question, but none can exist as to the other stratified rocks of the inferior order. Stratified as these are, and composed of the same substances, sedimentary rocks, too, the mind is irresistibly led back to granite and its cognate rocks, as the original basis of the crust of the globe, from which, and upon which, the other rocks have been formed. Hence it is, that geologists so often speak of granite under this aspect, and that whatever exceptions of rocks of igneous origin occur as later formations, they are to be accounted for as ejected through the original granite or other rocks, or both, from the melted mass below. To granite, therefore, should be given the name of primitive, in manifest distinction from all others. We find the stratified rocks produced from it, destitute of vegetable and animal remains, because no living things had yet found a place on the earth or in its waters. While granite is truly primitive, those formed from it may well be denominated primary rocks. The names would be consistent with the fact that not a trace of living things has been discovered in any of them. We stand, then, on the ground, in name and fact, where we see that animal and vegetable life on our earth had a beginning, and where creative power began to exert itself under a new and most interest



ing form. It is a great advance in philosophy to find the rocks around us uniting in one loud proclamation of the hand that made them. Infidelity, if not convinced, and therefore destroyed, is driven from the strongest of its holds, and finds its own chosen ground trembling to the very centre, and passing away from its feet.

The metaphysical argument of the beginning of all things which have change and succession, has never been refuted and never can be overthrown. It is the ratio sufficiens of all dependent existences, and will stand while “God and nature last." But it is an argument wholly different from that presented by geology and chemistry, and the latter is far more palpable. Now it is well understood that a grain of sand, and every compound molecule, inevitably reveals its created origin, not less than the splendid palace indicates the hand of the architect. The definite proportions of the combinations unfold the intelligence that wielded the creative energy. Now geology, as well as chemistry, has certified us, on independent grounds, of the truth of the divine word, " in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Let the splendid language of Sedgwick on this subject, once more be heard. • The bible instructs us that man and other living things, bave been placed but a few years upon the earth; and the physical monuments of the world bear witness to the same truth: if the astronomer tells us of myriads of worlds not spoken of in the sacred records ; the geologist, in like manner, proves (not by arguments from analogy, but by the incontrovertible evidence of physical phenomena) that there were former conditions of our planet, separated from each other by vast intervals of time, during which, man, and the other creatures of his own date, had not been called into being. Periods such as these belong not, therefore, to the moral history of our race, and come neither within the letter nor the spirit of revelation. Between the first creation of the earth and that day in which it pleased God to place man upon it, who shall dare to define the interval ! On this question scripture is silent; but that silence destroys not the meaning of those physical monuments of his power that God has put before our eyes, giving us, at the same time, faculties whereby we may interpret them and comprehend their meaning."

The discoveries in geology have removed some plausible objections to the bible. The assertion of Brydone in relation to the age of the world as derived from the soil found between the layers of lava on Mount Ætna, and many others of a similar

character, pretended to be based on facts in nature, have vanished like the “ baseless fabric of a vision." No person that makes any pretension to the knowledge of the very elements of geology, will hazard his reputation for a moment upon such conclusions.

Many opinions, too, of the friends of divine revelation have been set aside by geological discoveries. While the evidence of the convulsive action of a mighty deluge of waters over the earth, is irresistible, no one can trace to the Noachic flood the origin of those vast deposites of rock, petrifactions, animal and vegetable remains, which are spread over the earth. Other hypotheses, equally untenable, have been swept away.

But, while both these classes of results have been going on, the facts in nature have been found to be consistent with the truths of the bible, wherever the bible can be supposed to have referred to them. It has come to be agreed, however, that the bible is not designed to teach philosophy, nor natural history in any of its departments, nor astronomy; but that it is a record of the operations of divine providence for a moral object, and unfolds the moral history of our race as connected with the retributions of eternity. A thousand questions are at once seen to be ridiculous, and men are directed to the seriptures for moral reasons alone. The prevailing theory contains harmonious views of the operations of the great author of all, whether in relation to natural, or to moral and religious objects.

The natural is inferior to the moral; all nature is made subservient to great moral results, and it seems to exist only to answer moral ends. Science and knowledge and philosophy find their highest elevation in being handmaids to morals and religion. We rejoice in their advancement to the true place of their application. Progress in the understanding of nature has effected thus much; it will effect far more. “ Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased;" knowledge shall be the result, practical and sympathetic, which will reach the hearts of men.

But we are not to suppose, that the discoveries in geology will lead to the general abandonment of infidelity, or of opposition to the word of God. This hostility is more deeply seated than the intellect, and it is to be effected by another power than reason, or argument, or evidence. An ingenious mind, and especially one which is fixed in the rejection of divine truth, will find some other method by which to maintain itself, when one is removed. It is rare that infidelity, generally having its root in

the heart, is really converted to the full and cordial reception of the truth by argumentation addressed merely to the head. As the discoveries in geology have shown more clearly the harmony of the works and word of God, the opposition has been continually changing its ground. The waves of sand, altered by every varying tide and current, are not more unstable than this spirit. It has an end to answer, which can be reached only by perseverance in error and sin. The history of infidelity, and every particular instance of it which has been developed, have shown to a certainty that its very origin and support is repugnance to religious obligation. It does not begin with reason; it is not supported by evidence. It is aversion to that high responsibility, which is portrayed by the pencil of divine inspiration — responsibility extending to all our actions, thoughts, words, motives and feelings, and involving in its results those tremendous consequences which might shake an angel's mind. It is aversion to this responsibility, and unwillingness to put under due subjection the desires and propensities of our natures, which is required by this responsibility, that forms the foundation of infidelity. Let truth be made ever so harmonious, let geology demonstrate the consistency of the word and works of God in all their relations, let science remove far away the obstacles which now are imagined to exist, no essential progress is made in the eradication of this deep seated hostility to divine truth. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” But a great advantage will be gained, even though the infidel is not arrested in his course. Many may be preserved from infidelity. The harmony of facts and revealed truth may affect hearts not yet hardened in unbelief. Truth may be the means of leading to correctness of feeling and action, as well as of conviction. When its sway shall be complete, the hearts of men will render homage and glory to the God of providence and grace, and to the Redeemer of our immortal spirits.

ART. III. — Origines Liturgicæ, or Antiquities of the English

Ritual, and a Dissertation on Primitive Liturgies. By the Rev. WILLIAM PALMER, M. A., of Worcester College, Oxford. Oxford: 1832. 2 vols. 8vo.

The subject of precomposed forms of prayer is one which, in some of its aspects, has been often discussed, and is daily undergoing dicussion, in this country. We are happy to add, that no topic in which Churchmen are particularly interested has usually called forth less of the bitterness of controversy. This may be owing to several causes. In the first place, prayer by a precomposed form obviously is not, and is not felt to be, essentially connected with Episcopacy as such, - although, in practice, it is indeed an appendage chiefly, though not exclusively, of Episcopalianism. Many, we suppose, do really prefer the use of a liturgy, as a matter of individual taste, and as a security for the preservation of sound doctrine, who heartily eschew the claims of bishops, no matter how moderately stated. And then the ground taken by our Articles on this point is so liberal-SO far from deserving the mad-dog title of exclusiveness, which so usually settles the question of “Episcopal regimen,” without the trouble of opening the lids of the Bible - that, unless the disputants on both sides choose another ground of their own, there can be no need of entering on the discussion with any particular offence as at arrogant pretensions, or shyness, as where the decision may require the public change of ecclesiastical relations. The decreeing of Rites and Ceremonies is left to the power of the Church, -of each branch of the Church Catholic, of course.* If any branch chooses to decree public worship by extempore prayer, we cannot question its power to do so, or denounce its action as without validity. So far as we have to do with such Church, in this matter, we are only entitled to expostulate with them for having made their decree without paying sufficient regard to what we believe to be the best rules of procedure in such case. But in fact, we more properly assume

" The

* Thirty-nine Articles. Art. XX. Of the Authority of the Church. Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies,” &c. Compare with this the definition of the Church, and the mention of particular Churches in the article next preceding

« PreviousContinue »